|History & Founding Principles of the Gloucester Gentlemen's Soccer League|
The GGSL is one of the true soccer success stories in Ottawa! In less than 10 years it has doubled in size from an 8 team/1 division league, to its current 16 team/3 division format. More importantly, it provides a totally unique approach to men's recreational soccer in the nation's capital.
Below: Growth of the GGSL - Member Teams by Year & Division (2007-2016)
The Superdome opened in the fall of 2004 as a collaboration between the City of Ottawa, TMSI Sports Management Inc. (“TMSI”), and the anchor tenant, the Gloucester Soccer Association (now the Ottawa Gloucester Soccer Club). The dome became the first such facility in Ottawa’s east end and created exciting opportunities for winter soccer.
Early Days of Indoor Soccer
For 3 seasons Friday evening men’s recreational soccer was offered in the Superdome, first as part of the Gloucester Hornets Indoor Soccer League (“GHISL”), and then in a league operated by TMSI. By the end of 2006/07, matters had reached a critical juncture. The biggest issues were the wide discrepancy in talent levels between teams, and incidents of violent conduct that had marred the previous seasons.
Founding of the GGSL
The existing league was radically reorganized under the visionary leadership of Len Gilchrist and Paolo Filliponi. The Gloucester Gentlemen’s League was formed (starting in 2013/14, the name was changed to the Gloucester Gentlemen’s Soccer League, or “GGSL”, to better reflect a soccer focus). The league consisted of 8 charter members (the "Original Eight"), of which 6 still exist today:
- Clockwork Orange (now Atletico)
- Clockwork Orange: The Sequel (now Orange Crush)
- Golden Warriors (now Galaxy)
- Manchester United
- Pele Proteges
- Thee Olde Boys
The GGSL turned into a league that was very different from its predecessors, in three main respects:
Gentlemanly Play – Critical to the future success of the league and its development was the adoption of the (then unheard of) concept of “gentlemanly play”. Although it was startling to some, the word “gentlemen” was inserted front and center into the league name. The decision was made to orient as a skills-based league and a “No Contact” rule was introduced to protect the players. In the fall of 2008, to further encourage sportsmanship, a maximum 5 goal differential in scores was introduced.
League Management Philosophy – Managers of the GGSL reached a consensus that they would think about player recruitment from a league perspective, and not just look to continually acquire more and ‘better’ players for themselves. As a result, many talented players were added to technically weaker teams, and players were occasionally moved between teams in order to provide a good level of balance among the squads and strengthen healthy competition.
Social Aspect – The league encouraged and provided opportunities for players to get together after the games and socialize. Arrangements were made with local pubs to provide a post-game gathering place for those who were so inclined. This helped strengthened acquaintances and friendships within and between teams.
Each of these elements, individually and together, helped foster the fun, safe, social soccer environment for which the GGSL has become renowned.
In season 2, the league website www.gloucestersoccer.com/ggl/ was introduced. It quickly became a crucial focal point for GGSL announcements, team schedules and other information.
Continued Development of the GGSL
When Lakis Karyofyllis assumed the role as Chair of the GGSL for season 3, he continued the league's tradition of strong leadership. Operating in conjunction with the committee of team managers, the league continued to progress.
League discipline remained a focus and was consistently and firmly applied. In a few cases players that did not respect referees, their opponents and their teammates needed to be barred from the league.
While the GGSL started as a league for men aged 35 and up, for the 2011/12 season the decision was made to transition the age limit to 40. Younger players were grandfathered to allow them to continue to play, and the change was made over several seasons to provide opportunities for those who had been waiting for years to meet the age requirement to join the league. The motivation for this change was to permit those who had contributed so much to the development of the GGSL to continue to play significant on-the-pitch roles without an inordinate influx of younger players.
In October 2012 the social hub for the league moved from the Royal Oak to Connors Pub following negotiations to ensure players meeting socially post-game benefited from reasonable prices for food & beer, attentive service, as well as door prizes and seasonal parties.
In 2013 the GGSL acquired a unique visual identity with the development of its own logo. A line of GGSL branded t-shirts was subsequently introduced in the 2014/15 season.
First & Second League Expansions
The league took the step prior to the 2014/15 season to expand and separate into 2 divisions – A & B. For the 2015/16 season a third division (Masters Over 50) was introduced. Despite being potentially hugely disruptive, these expansions went off practically without a hitch and with broad support from the players. The league remained committed to ensuring that the expectations for player conduct would remain the same, regardless of the particular division. Both expansion decisions were made in order to permit all GGSL players to compete at the level they were most comfortable.
The future will bring new challenges and opportunities for the GGSL. We trust that all present and future GGSL participants will conduct themselves in accordance with the guiding principles that have served the league so well. When they are finally ready to “hang up the cleats”, we hope they will do so in the knowledge that they were good custodians for the league and left it in an even stronger position than when they started playing!